Minimized CAPEX vs. optimized OPEX and maximized energy yield

Stäubli AG - AE-CAPEX-fwi-2x-69665-jpg-orig.jpg

Both careful selection of connectors and their impact on the bankability of every photovoltaic project are substantial. During the project planning phase of a PV system, the main focus is often on the initial costs and largely on the two highest-cost items: the solar modules and the power inverters.
Connectors as a crucial part of the cabling are easily neglected.

The components for cabling (connectors, junction boxes, cables) play only a minor role in the calculation as they amount to less than 1% of the Capital expenditures (CAPEX), for connectors an even tinier percentage (approx. 0.003 %). Thus, choosing low-end connectors that are about 30 % cheaper in price compared to Stäubli connectors signifies a potential saving of no more than 0.001 % of the initial costs. Regardless of these minuscule potential savings, PV project developers sometimes try to save costs by selecting low-end product solutions in order to optimize CAPEX.

The compromise with quality however involves many risks, endangers the return on investment and can quickly turn these short-term savings into substantial losses. These apparently minor components can have a massive and ultimately decisive influence on the risks, respectively on the ROI (return on investment) and the LCOE (levelized cost of energy) of the PV project.

Stäubli AG - AE-OPEX-fwi-2x-69668-jpg-orig.jpg

Yet, these components have to secure safe and reliable transmission of the power being produced. Without constant connection or due to failure, there is no assured feed-in and, as a consequence, reduce profitability as well as ROI.

During the project planning phase, it is also absolutely important to take into consideration that the plant engineering is designed for an operational phase often exceeding 25 years. That means that all the components should provide longevity and outstanding technical characteristics in order to ensure stable efficiency.

Wrong connector selection can lead to higher operating expenditures (OPEX) as well as lower energy yield over time (>25 years). This leads to a lower efficiency of the PV system and a negative impact on both ROI and LCOE. Therefore, when pursuing long-term operation, planning and choosing the right components are paramount.